Pasadena's New ‘Boba Trail' Highlights Splendid Sip Shops (There's a Handy Map, Too)

Get to know the Crown City's best bubble teas and exactly where to find them.

Edy Gunawan

What to Know

  • The Boba Trail, presented by the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Center, debuted in March 2023
  • The new map features 29 shops located in and around Route 66, with several based around Old Pasadena
  • The bureau hails the beverage as "the defining drink of the San Gabriel Valley"

Few locals would claim that Southern California is a region that's besotted with hotter sips, the steamier beverages of wintertime.

True, we do go for a piping hot coffee or hot toddy when the weather calls for it, but how we do adore our incredible cool-down drinks, the lovely liquid refreshments that fit SoCal's (mostly) sunny spirit.

Boba or bubble tea is at the top of the libation-luscious list for so many of us, and with good reason: It's "the defining drink of the San Gabriel Valley," per the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Center, a tangy, chewy, milky, floral and/or fruity symphony of flavor and texture.

And to honor the dozens of delightful shops that call the Crown City home, the bureau has created a new Boba Trail, highlighting well over two dozen bastions of boba bliss in and around Route 66.

"Born from the neighboring cities' high population of Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants, boba culture in Pasadena has flourished in recent years," shares the bureau. This has meant more splendid shops, with a wider variety of boba-based choices, for both San Gabriel Valley residents and visitors to explore.

While traditional milk teas or green teas brimming with soft pearls will appear on many of the menus, several other goodies, from Thai Tea soft serve to Taiwanese sausage on rice, are also featured along the trail.

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The nummy nomenclature behind this iconic offering can include pearl tea or milk tea, too, so whichever way you personally refer to the delicious drink, you'll find a Pasadena shop, or several shops, that can fulfill your bubbly cravings.

But where to start? The choices are as plentiful as shiny pearls gracing the bottom of a cup: Bubble Puff & Tea Cafe near Pasadena City College is on the tempting list, as is Motto Tea Cafe on Green Street (a local favorite that's also synonymous with the popular cloud pancake).

How to begin your bubble tea adventures around the rosy enclave?

The Boba Trail Map is so easy to use and will lead you east along Colorado Boulevard or west, if you prefer.

There are a few spots just off the main thoroughfare, too, so be sure to check out those Colorado-close shops while you're out soaking in this splendid sip, one of the most tantalizing tastes of the SGV.

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